'We both have a lifelong appreciation of furniture and decorative finds that come with the added gift of age and history,’ says Karen Cull, who, along with her husband Anthony, founded antiques business Anton & K twelve years ago.
‘Surfaces that bear the marks of everyday use, edges softened through years of touch, and patina that matures only with the passing of time are all wonderful. And we believe antiques are imperfectly perfect – adding a timeless beauty to spaces both old and new, and always complementing contemporary design.’
The couple’s latest project, a one-level mews house in Cheltenham, location of some of the world's best homes, which acts as an urban escape from their main Cotswold cottage, is the embodiment of this philosophy. Built three years ago from reclaimed brick, the one-bedroom bolthole is tucked in a quiet back street, a short walk from bustling Montpellier and nearby Pittville Park.
'We had been looking for somewhere bijou, but were keen for the flow to unfold on one level, with considered spaces for relaxing, cooking, eating and entertaining,’ says Karen. The mews ticked every box – and with their work as antiques dealers being all-consuming, it came with the added bonus of being ready to move into. ‘The shell was perfect, but we tailored the finishing details to our taste,’ says Karen.
Kitchen ideas included adding reclaimed tiles and cast-iron hardware, sourced from a contact in Belgium. An old French garden table is used to great effect as an island prep table.
The furnishings are a compelling mix of antique and contemporary and the foraged branches are displayed in a 19th century Spanish pot.
Living room ideas include painting doors and windows – previously white – in Farrow & Ball’s Railings, which has added depth to the monochrome aesthetic. At the rear, the large doors open from the main living room into a private whitewashed courtyard.
The interior mixes styles beautifully. ‘We wanted to combine country antiques with a more urban edge, including original 1970s pieces, such as Serge Mouille light fittings and a mid-century Paradis sofa by Kerstin Hörlin Holmqvist in the main living area,’ says Karen. A travertine 1970s coffee table adds a contemporary feel to the space and is flanked by two antique chairs reupholstered in vintage Belgian linen.
Pieces have been layered effortlessly and surfaces dressed with an abundance of vintage pots, bowls and ceramics, with Gunnar Nylund a particular favorite. The interior has a contained, pared-back aesthetic, with dining room ideas including a statement 18th-century Swedish cupboard providing valuable storage opportunities. ‘Every piece here has been chosen specifically for the house – favorite artisan crockery and glassware in the kitchen and textiles that have been collected over many years. We like to use and enjoy what we have,’ says Karen.
Original 1970s pieces include the Angelo Mangiarotti travertine table in the dining room.
Natural textures abound with the seagrass headboard ideas and layered linen textiles, while a contemporary light fitting and artwork offset the rustic look.
Bedroom ideas include fitting shutters to allow soft light to gently filter into this relaxing space.
‘The courtyard was an added surprise and is maintenance-free. We use it as an indoor-outdoor room that we enjoy relaxing in during warmer months and looking out onto from inside when the fire is roaring,' says Karen.
Whitewashed brick walls, oversized stone planters and contemporary furniture all contribute to this outdoor room’s delightful modern rusticity.
The couple have garnered a loyal following, appreciative of their authentic antiques sourcing and down-to-earth take on life. Their finds of Swedish, English and French antique pieces in recent years have been mixed with a broader collection of rustic originals, lighting and decorative one-offs. ‘Quality underpins everything – but we don’t like to stand still,’ says Karen. ‘Our look keeps evolving as our own tastes change. I guess that is the beauty of buying antiques – pieces always hold their value and there are no rules. You just have to follow your heart and fill your home with the things you love.'
Interior design/ Anton and K
Photography/ Rachael Smith
Text/ Ali Heath
Interiors have always been Vivienne's passion – from bold and bright to Scandi white. After studying at Leeds University, she worked at the Financial Times, before moving to Radio Times. She did an interior design course and then worked for Homes & Gardens, Country Living and House Beautiful. Vivienne’s always enjoyed reader homes and loves to spot a house she knows is perfect for a magazine (she has even knocked on the doors of houses with curb appeal!), so she became a houses editor, commissioning reader homes, writing features and styling and art directing photo shoots. She worked on Country Homes & Interiors for 15 years, before returning to Homes & Gardens as houses editor four years ago.
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